Pastor's Corner: Is God with us?
Last updated 12/17/2021 at 11:17am
I am always amazed at what happens when I take time to pray with my wife Jan. We were praying this morning (Tuesday the 14th of December) and while I was praying, I was also contemplating the homily I needed to prepare for our St. Jude School Mass on Wednesday morning the 15th of December. I always struggle with homilies for the school Masses because - well let's just say there seems to be a lack of enthusiasm exhibited by the young people and the readings very often seem hard to apply to their lives.
The readings for the Mass I am talking about are from Isiah 45:6c-8,18,21c-25. In this reading God is (through the words of the prophet) speaking to a people in captivity who are struggling very much with their faith in God. In fact, because of the problems, they are experiencing they are willing to turn to foreign Gods because they feel as though they have been abandoned by the One True God. So, God is letting them know who he is and how he has made himself known to the people by his works among them throughout their history as the people of God.
In the Gospel reading for the school Mass, we read Luke 7: 18b-23. In this reading we hear from John the Baptist who is in jail wondering if Jesus is the Messiah - even after he had baptized him and witnessed the Holy Spirit coming down on Jesus. His place in jail, his loss of hope was causing him to doubt all that he had witnessed concerning Jesus. So, he sent two of his disciples to question Jesus, they were to ask him if he indeed was the Messiah. To their question Jesus pointed out the many things that he had done in his ministry to the people of God; "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
"the blind regain their sight,
"the lame walk, lepers are cleansed,
"the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
"the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
"And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me."
These two readings were what was on my mind while I was praying with my wife Jan. How can I help the young people at mass (first through eighth graders) relate these scriptures to their lives? How can I help the scripture come alive to them?
Then during our prayer, Jan and I read from the bible in the book of 1 John 4:7–12:
"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone
"who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
"Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
"In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only
"Son into the world so that we might have life through him.
"In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and
"sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.
"No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God
"remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.
As soon as Jan and I read this scripture during our morning prayer I knew that God (through scripture) had given me the point of relevance I needed to connect with the young people at mass.
Each day I get to watch the young people getting dropped off and picked up by their parents. Each day as I watch all this activity it becomes very clear to me how much the parents and children love one another. There are hugs and kisses. There are words of affection, words of correction, words of love and more hugs and kisses. Love is so present - God is so present that he "remains in us, and love is brought to perfection in us."
So during morning prayer with my wife Jan (who loves me) God was present and he made clear to me how I might talk to his children at the school mass.
Like John the Baptist in the gospel reading from Luke and the people of Israel in the reading from Isaiah; we might have doubts about who God is and if he is present to us. We might even question the reality of God, but in the end all we must do is examine our lives and during that examination if we recognize the presence of love, we know that God is with us.
It is my hope and prayer for all of you that this Christmas you recognize Emmanuel, God with us in your life. Tell someone you love them and give them a hug when you do that God is present.
If I don't see you before Christmas, please have a Merry Christmas.
By the way here is a hug or two, well maybe three.
Deacon Tim Maroney
St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church